Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanks to the Southwest Fox Attendees

I want to give a huge thanks to all the people who attended Southwest Fox 2008, and especially those who attended my sessions. The conference organizers have tallied up the evaluations and forwarded all the scores and comments to the speakers. We really do read them and we really do appreciate them. The comments help us know what we're doing right and what we need to improve.

I'm extremely giddy to share the news that you made me the #1 speaker of SWFox this year. My "Customizing Your Vertical Market Application" session ranked #1 amongst 34 session topics. My "Introduction to the VFP 9.0 Report Writer" precon ranked #2 for the morning session and #4 for the afternoon session. I can't believe it .. I had the #1, #2, and #4 sessions of the entire conference. Wow .. did I mention how giddy I am? :-)

The written comments were great. I thank all of you for taking the time to write them. I can't list them all, but here's a sampling of some.

From the Report Writer Precon:

"Cathy did a great job of keeping me engaged and interested."

"Her presentation was easy to follow/understand and had entergy/liveliness so it was interesting."

"Couldn't have been better."

"I finally learned how to use Report Listeners."

"Practical, real world tips and tricks."

"Great white paper content."

From the Customizing a Vertical Market App Session:

"Outstanding idea and implementation that I can apply to my applications."

"The speaker portrayed the concept in a very straightforward and organized way."

"I loved this session. Great ideas! Great presentation. Love the pictures!"

"The session was both fun and informative. I liked how Cathy demonstrated the approach to extending a vertical market app by making fun of the organizers. Even more fun when at least one of them was in the room at the time."

"Made a complex topic, and discussed it in a simplified manner, that allowed a beginner, such as myself, to absorb the key concepts."

"Lively, useful, good examples, entertaining."

"The go-kart thing was very funny."

"Best value session."

"This stuff races." (with a picture of a go-kart next to it)

"Wanted to see if Cathy would change her session after hearing last night that she lost to Doug and Rick. Amazed she did. Does she get extra credit for doing so? In my book, yes!"

"Best session of the entire conference. Absolutely loved the report factory - this will pay for the entire conference."

Again, I want to thank all of you for attending my sessions and taking the time to fill out the evaluations. We've all been to one or more sessions over the years that are full of content, but boring and hard to follow. Sometimes you leave thinking the speaker is really knowledgeable, but you're scratching your head because you didn't understand it and aren't sure how to go back to the office and apply what you just saw. My goal when giving sessions is to share my knowledge in a manner that's fun and easy to absorb. I'm also hopeful that my passion for software development shines through and rubs off on others. Based on the feedback, it looks like I'm right on track (pun intended).

Now that I'm done thanking the attendees .. I have to turn my attention to the conference organizers. Word has it from Tamar that Rick and Doug tried as hard as they could to come up with an angle to skew the rankings so I didn't come out on top. They relished their go-kart win over me and have been having a lot of fun rubbing it in. They knew ... I mean they REALLY knew .. that I would turn around and rub this in their faces. And they're right ... nah nah nah nah!! ;-)

Seriously though .. the ribbing is all in fun. I have a lot of respect for all the speakers at Southwest Fox, even Rick and Doug.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Catching Up

It's been a while since I've done some blogging so here's bunch of things all wrapped up in one post.

Southwest Fox
The Southwest Fox 2008 conference did not disappoint. I learned lots of new stuff, met lots of new people, and got to hang out with old friends. The sessions were great! The giveaways to the attendees were out of this world! The social networking was unmatched. If you've never attended a conference, I can't stress enough how much value you get out of going. Online forums are nice, but they don't match the face-to-face personal connections you make at a conference.

GoKart Racing
If you haven't been following this story, in 2006 several of us went racing at F1 Race Factory during the conference. The rules say whoever has the fastest lap, wins. I had the fastest lap, Rick Schummer was behind me by .03 seconds, and Doug Hennig was right behind him. Rick, however, likes to tout that he had the fastest average lap, therefore, he declared himself the winner (at least in his own mind).

Of course, I was very gracious with my win in 2006 ... NOT! I rubbed it in their faces every chance I got. It was fun and the smack that went back and forth was pretty intense. In 2007, we all went back for a rematch. Unfortunately, they were too busy and we weren't able to race. That was fine by me. One more year to continue declaring myself the winner over Rick and Doug.

For 2008 we made reservations ahead of time assuring that we would have a chance to win. Unfortunately for me, it was not good. Both Rick and Doug beat me ... twice! Doug was the winner in our race, Rick was second, and I was a distant 5th. When we take into account some of the other races, Rick Strahl was the overall winner. He kicked our butts! Ironically, Rick Schummer once again had the fastest average lap, so he once again, is touting victory.

I guess I'll have to put up with a year of getting my nose rubbed in my loss!!

Blame It On Rick
Ever needed to shift the blame to someone else? Well, now you can. Just visit, make a post, and relieve yourself of all blame. Rick Schummer is graciously accepting the blame for anything you want to send his way. Check out this fun website if you have a chance.

At Southwest Fox, the VFPx project on CodePlex was heavily talked about. It is considered the future of FoxPro. It's a place where us, the FoxPro Community, can share utilities and FoxPro source code with others. In fact, all the FoxPro xbased source code has been posted on VFPx and is available for the community to maintain and move into the future. The "Call To Action" throughout the conference was to encourage people get involved. Consider downloading some projects and doing some testing. Offer your help as a developer on some projects. Consider submitting new projects. Anything to help the FoxPro Community!

The VFPx project on CodePlex has a new utility called FoxTabs. I've been using it for a week now and it's pretty useful. It lets you quickly jump between windows within your FoxPro development environment. It's still in beta, but it's worth checking out.

Foxit Reader
I recently learned about a new free PDF reader called Foxit Reader. It appears to be faster than the standard Adobe reader. I've been using it for about a week so far and I like it. There's a free version with the basics or you can upgrade to a "pay" version to get more features. Check it out and see if you like it.

If you're like me, you have a gazillion logins and passwords to remember for various websites. Several months ago I started using a product called eWallet by Ilium Software to help me keep my head on straight. It lets me organize logins and passwords and so much more. I can track my credit cards, my insurance cards, membership information, etc. The software lets me quickly launch a website and it automatically enters my login and password for me. It's a real time saver!

I've added a few people to my Blogroll so check it out when you get a chance.